This is Rule 10 in my 10 Rules to Eliminate Debt and Change Your Life
The reasons I started Married (with Debt) are twofold: to help people get out of debt, and help them change their lives.
That means you are fixing the problems that got you where you are today, and then changing those bad habits to make sure it never happens again.
Many of the previous Rules are geared towards the first goal, helping you get out of debt. This one is about the bigger picture: changing your life.
I will also say that many of you will disagree with this, the final Rule, but that’s okay. These are guiding principles I have used to change MY life. If you don’t agree with this one, that doesn’t mean the previous 9 have no value for you.
So what am I trying to say when I say the goal of work is retirement?
Firstly, it’s a statement designed to get you thinking about the very long term (when you will retire). But mostly it’s a way to give meaning to this thing we do 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 40 years or more.
For some, the goal of work is to buy things. I guess on a base level that is true for everyone. The difference, however, is how much you buy. You might be living so far beyond your means that it could take years just to get back to zero. You might joke to your friends that you will have to work until 75 before retiring.
That’s because you didn’t have a goal to your work. Work was not seen as a highway where you can race others to the finish line. You were treating it like a hamster wheel that will eventually release you from the cage.
Working to Not Work
When we change our mindset and view work as a means to get from A to B, we experience changes in our daily thinking. We hold off on that 3-pack of DVDs because we can rent it instead. We buy a very used car instead of a brand new one.
This frees up our money, allows us to spend less than we earn, and put a lot away to fund our ultimate goal.
How you feel about work probably depends on your career. But it can also depend on your personal finance habits. If you absolutely love your line of work, you may find yourself saying “I so happy I don’t think I could EVER retire.” Or, you could say “I’m so poor I don’t think I can EVER retire.”
Let me be clear: I truly respect those who have a strong inner urge to always be doing big things. I envy people who wake up each morning and can’t wait to get to the office.
This rule is more geared towards people frustrated with their job, and frustrated with an economic system that must produce losers in order to create winners. They are frustrated with the endless cycle of consumerism, a chain that keeps you tied to your paycheck and forces you to always be seeking more income.
They know that by focusing their life on what truly matters, things like family, stability, and their health, they can learn to ignore the iPhone 6 or the latest fashion that will be dead in 3 months anyway.
They also know that by focusing on what truly matters, they can get where they want to go faster.
If your goal in your work life is reaching its end, maybe you will do something crazy like sell that brand new car you regret buying. Maybe you will take a second job delivering pizza, even though you are dead tired at night. Maybe you will take that $100,000 in your retirement account and pay cash for some land and a paid-for house.
When we stop caring about what others think and focus on ourselves, big changes happen.
If you are content with just going with the flow and following your peers down the predictable path laid out for us, that’s fine. This rule is definitely not for you.
Do I Want Everyone to Follow this Rule?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I don’t want everyone to like my ideas. I want YOU to like them.
If everyone changed the way they view money and work, the global economy would probably crash. It would be easier to measure employment rather than unemployment.
So don’t go preaching on the mountaintop that you can’t wait to retire. People will call you lazy, and suspect that you are some weird threat to the fragile balance of the system.
That’s fine. Just smile and nod, focus on your family, and go back to your plan.
Though this may sound harsh, that’s because reality is harsh. The system is broken. The Eurozone is barely held together. The American experiment in fiat currency is barely holding. For every person who retires early, their spot will be filled by someone who will do the work for half the pay.
Rather than join this race to the bottom, it’s best to sit on the sidelines and politely clap.
10 Rules to Eliminate Your Debt and Change Your Life
10. The Goal of Work is Retirement